Extending Roger's thoughts on human destructiveness


J. Guthrie Ford


Carl Rogers explicitly described children's urges to inflict pain, a male organism directing a sexual assault on young girls, and a mother's organic need to aggress against her child. In light of these recognitions of human destructiveness by Rogers, Quinn (1993) has recently challenged the commitment of person-centered psychologists to the wholly constructive actualizing tendency. Quinn (1993) has argued for destructiveness being equally "at core" with constructive organismic capacities. He has also asserted that this possibility was acknowledged, although inadvertently so, by Rogers himself, through various descriptions (admissions to?) human destructiveness. If person-centered psychology is equivocal about the inherentness of human destructiveness, then many person-centered deductions and applications become clouded. Quinn (1993) focused on client-centered therapy, arguing that the client's organismic valuing process, which may well include destructive features, has limited adaptive benefit. Although I do not find that Rogers recognized destructiveness as an inherent directionality, it is true that person-centered theory has not dealt with negative human behaviors in conceptually satisfying ways. This paper is a start toward changing that. Four explicit "cases" of human destructiveness are taken from prominent works and are explained by person-centered constructs and specific processes which Rogers saw as relevant to the actualization of destructiveness. The paper concludes with critical reflection on Quinn's (1993) developmental-interactional approach to psychotherapy, an alterative to the client-centered approach.